One of the hardest things for a parent to do is discipline a child. We have all heard the saying “spare the rod and spoil the child” but who among us would actually use a rod of any sort to discipline our children? But discipline them we must even if the discipline is couched as a positive nonphysical reinforcement rather than a negative physical one. When we do this we do it not out of anger or hate but rather out of love and in the hopes of restoring the child to a right path or a path leading to health and prosperity.
And even parents are “children”- children of God. Our heavenly father must at times also discipline us. And while we find this discipline uncomfortable and maybe painful in a metaphorical sense the scripture assures us that while “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Who among us has not from time to time realized that we have allowed our actions to become excessive to the point of hurting ourselves and others and then found ourselves enduring discomfort as we experience the steps necessary to correct what has gone amiss? The scripture further instructs us on how to deal with this discomfort by “lifting our drooping hands and strengthening our week knees, making our paths straight so that what was lame may not be put out of joint but rather healed.”
As we experience the Lord’s discipline let us see it not as “punishment” but rather as a form of reconciliation and healing bringing about growth toward God.
The Letter to the Hebrews: Chapter 12
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?–“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,
13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
The scripture passage cited above is appointed as one of the lessons to be read in commemoration of the life and ministry of William Laud an Archbishop of Canterbury whose feast day is today. Archbishop Laud was known to have utilized discipline, perhaps excessively at times, to reform the practices of the Church of England and protect it from what he feared was a form of heresy in lapsed practices. William Laud died in 1645.